Naturals show benefits in cancer battle

But older survivors cautioned about taking supplements

As of press time, news personalities from competing news stations were making the rounds on network television. Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charles Gibson and dozens more Hollywood celebrities are united around a single cause — cancer research. At the same time, evidence is stacking up that natural ingredients could also provide benefits in battling cancer.

Japanese researchers, working with the Yale School of Medicine, discovered a mushroom extract called AHCC that could help fight off the onset of cancer in persons over 50 years old. Tests found AHCC, an oligosaccharide, boosted production of white blood cells, called cytokines, which are used by the body to prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

A University of Texas study, meanwhile, discovered consumption of a curcumin supplement could benefit sufferers of pancreatic cancer. The trial involved administering 25 patients with ingredients-supplier Sabinsa's Curcumin C3 Complex supplement daily over a two-month period. Results indicated expression of biomarkers of progression of the disease, NF-kappa B and Cox-2, were "significantly lowered."

Results of a third study, involving rats and funded by the US National Cancer Institute, revealed evidence that a concentrated freeze-dried extract of black raspberries restored key genes associated with the development of cancer to normal function after they had been exposed to a carcinogen.

It isn't all good news, however. Researchers from Duke University Medical Center warned dietary supplements could pose a risk to older cancer survivors.

"One of the most common behavioural changes cancer survivors make is using dietary supplements in hopes of bolstering their health," said researcher Denise Snyder, clinical-trials manager at the Duke School of Nursing. "Still, it's unclear whether supplements really help keep cancer survivors healthier or put them at further risk."

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